As we move into winter, and the holidays, it can become hard to practice in the pool. Luckily yoga is more than physical exercises. Yoga philosophy is accessible to all of us all the time. During the holidays we can use Yamas and Niyamas to help us manage stress, stay focused on what really matters and enjoy ourselves more. Enjoy!
Day 1- Yoga Starts Now
This moment is a moment to practice.
It doesn’t matter if you didn’t practice yesterday, it’s past. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. You can practice today, now.
Take a deep inhale, exhale slowly. You just did yoga.
Repeat at any moment.
Repeat in the checkout line when you’re late.
Repeat when you’re hungry.
Repeat when your kids are bugging you.
Repeat when the Christmas lights make you smile.
Repeat during your favorite holiday song.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. You don’t get a repeat on any moment.
Make it a yoga moment in that moment.
Day 2 – Ahimsa
Ahimsa is about being kind. How can you practice kindness this holiday season with your food habits?
Ahimsa, traditionally translated as non-harming, is why some yogis choose to be vegetarian or vegan. Kind eating can be about eating less meat but it can be more than that too. During the holidays I hear a lot of comments about overdoing it with food.
Being kind can be about not overeating and making yourself uncomfortable. It can mean being kind to yourself by skipping the third helping of holiday cookies or all the other sweets that put you into sugar overload. Being kind can be slowing down or laying off the alcohol…or simply chewing your food well for easy digestion.
Whatever way you can apply some kindness to your relationship with food this holiday season will serve you well.
Day 3- Satya
The holidays are filled with shoulds…I really should send Christmas cards this year since I haven’t in 5 years.
I should get Christmas crackers that match the place settings for Christmas dinner.
I should get those parcels out ASAP so they’re under my nephew’s tree before Christmas.
Are any of your shoulds really life or death? If they don’t happen is it really an emergency? How can you prioritize what’s important to you, your truths? Your truths are your needs. You need food, sleep, love and the rest is gravy. Soften the shoulds and prioritize your truths today.
Day 4- Asteya
How can you be generous today? Not in the commercialized Christmas sense of buying more stuff, but of yourself.
Be generous with you…give someone a compliment, a smile, a hug. Call someone on the phone, write a Christmas card.
Show up for other people today and notice all the gifts you receive in return.
Day 5 – Brahmacharya
How can you be efficient with your energy and time today?
The holidays can really pull us in so many directions. Instead of getting bogged down in how much there is to do, what can you let go of so you can focus on the good stuff?
Maybe tonight it’s take out. Use the paper plates. Go to bed early instead of watching that show. So the house is messy, it’s well lived in and loved.
You are more important than things. Prioritize yourself today.
Aqua yoga philosophy for Christmas Day 6 – Aparigraha
Reading this, bring your hands to your heart, fingertips and/or palms touching in Anjali mudra. This is traditionally how you hold your hands at the end of a yoga class.
Close your eyes, inhale and as you exhale, silently express thanks for a gift in your life…the gift of yoga, the gift of the holidays, clean air, good weather, whatever makes you feel grateful.
Open your eyes, release your hands, spend a second with your feelings of gratitude before moving on to what else you need to do.
Spread the attitude of gratitude by thanking someone else today for something amazing they’ve done for you.
Day 7 – Saucha
Your body is the most beautiful, complete thing that will ever be yours. Take care of it today…Take a bath.
Do your yoga practice – at home, in class, while skiing.
Enjoy a cup of tea.
Brush your teeth.
Relish in the physicality of yourself today.
Day 8 – Santosha
Contentment is more than a good laugh and being happy in the moment. It’s being alright with what is, instead of striving for what’s not and will never be. It’s accepting the lousy parts of life as part of life. We all have death and taxes after all. It’s not always a bed of roses, but it’s not always lousy either.
It’s accepting yourself as you are.
You are complete and whole.
You are enough.
Today you are perfect.
Day 9 – Tapas
We are all doing the best we can. What would be your best today? It varies day to day. Today might be a day to celebrate getting out of bed. Or, today you might cross everything off your to-do list.
Your best varies day to day.
Do your best today and let go of everything else.
Day 10 – Svadhyaya
What can you learn about yourself today?
You might discover you detest peppermint lattes or scented pine cones. Maybe you’ll figure out your desk chair is all wrong for you. When you have that about to blow a gasket feeling because “that” Christmas song is on again, notice.
The better you get at knowing yourself off your mat or out of the pool, the better you’ll be at everything.
Get curious and get to know yourself today.
Day 11 – Ishvara Pranidhana
Today, can you remember the reason for the season?Dedicate today to something larger than yourself, whatever that looks like for you.
Spend a minute to reflect on why you’re really here and how you can best express that.
More Christmas yoga ideas
If you enjoyed these posts, read my article on Yoga Advent with the Yoga sutras.